Berthold Wolpe

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Berthold Wolpe

Berthold Wolpe, RIT NandE Vol14Num29 1982 Oct7 Complete.jpg
Wolpe receiving the Goudy Award for achievement in printing in 1982[1]
Berthold Ludwig Wolpe

(1905-10-29)29 October 1905
Died5 July 1989(1989-07-05) (aged 83)
London, England
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom (from 1947)
OccupationTypographer, type designer
Notable work
Albertus typeface
Margaret Leslie Smith
(m. 1941)

Berthold Ludwig Wolpe OBE (29 October 1905 – 5 July 1989) was a German calligrapher, typographer, type designer, book designer and illustrator.[2] He was born into a Jewish family at Offenbach near Frankfurt, emigrated to England soon after the Nazis came to power in 1935 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1947.[3] He was made a Royal Designer for Industry in 1959,[4] awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in 1968[5] and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983.[6] He died in London in 1989.


Wolpe began his career as an apprentice in a firm of metalworkers, followed by four years as a student of Rudolf Koch at the Offenbach Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1932 he visited London and met Stanley Morison, who invited Wolpe to design a printing type of capital letters for the Monotype Corporation. The typeface, Albertus,[7][8] was first shown in 1935 and completed in 1940.

When World War II was declared Wolpe, along with other German nationals living in England, was sent to an internment camp in Australia. He was permitted to return to England in 1941 and joined the production department at Faber and Faber.[9] His use of Albertus and hand-painted lettering became strongly identified with Faber jackets in the years that followed, and continued from 1958 on the Faber paper covered Editions.[10] He remained at Faber until his retirement in 1975 and is estimated to have designed over 1,500 book covers and dust jackets.[11][12]

In addition to Albertus, Wolpe designed several other typefaces.[13][14] He also taught at the Frankfurt and Offenbach School of Art (1929–33), Camberwell School of Art (1948–53), Royal College of Art (1956–57) and City & Guilds of London School of Art.

A retrospective exhibition of Wolpe's career was held at the V&A Museum in 1980 with Wolpe's involvement, and another in Mainz in 2006.[15][16][17] In 2017 Wolpe's font design publisher Monotype released its Berthold Wolpe Collection, a set of updated digitisations of five Wolpe typefaces, and promoted them with an exhibition of Wolpe's work at the Type Museum in London.[18][19]


Wolpe's cover art for A Girl in Winter by Philip Larkin, published by Faber and Faber in 1965. His typeface Albertus is used on the right.
  • Hyperion (1932), for the Bauer Foundry
  • Albertus (c. 1932-40), Wolpe's most popular typeface.
  • Pegasus, a roman typeface with similarities to Albertus, in Walter Tracy's words: "a roman with something of the angularity of the gothic."[20] Less popular than Albertus, privately revived by Matthew Carter for the 1980 exhibition on Wolpe's work, adding an italic and bold.[21][22] A digitisation was released in 2013 by Dinamo, and another in 2017 by Toshi Omagari as part of Monotype's Wolpe Collection.[23][24][25] Omagari's digitisation is used extensively by Tortoise Media.[26]
  • Tempest Titling (1935), an all-caps slanted display sans-serif for the Fanfare Press.[27][28]
  • Sachsenwald (1937-8), a modernised blackletter. Never widely released due to the war, digitised 2017.[29]
  • Fanfare, a slanted condensed display sans-serif for the Fanfare Press.[30]
  • Decorata (1955)
  • LPTB Italic (1973), an italic companion to London Underground's Johnston typeface


  • In 1959: A newe writing booke of copies, 1574, A fascimile of a unique Elisabethan Writing book in the Bodleian Library Oxford, Lion and Unicorn Press, London. In this book Wolpe added an introduction, notes and translations of the written texts in the original.

In 1960, Wolpe published Renaissance Handwriting: An Anthology of Italic Scripts, co-authored with Alfred Fairbank, World Publishing Company & Faber and Faber

In 1967, Wolpe prepared revived editions of the early nineteenth century specimen books of London typefounder Vincent Figgins.[31][32]

In 1975, Wolpe published a monograph on the Elizabethan writing-master John de Beauchesne. The Life & Work of: John de Beauchesne & the First English Writing-books was published in a limited edition of 50 copies for the Society for Italic Handwriting, and was subsequently republished as a chapter in A. S. Osley's Scribes and Sources (1980).[33][34]

Personal life[edit]

His wife was fellow artist Margaret Wolpe (née Smith; sculptor and silversmith)[35][36] and his children are Paul (doctor); Toby (technology journalist);[37] Sarah [Wolpe-Lawrence] (designer and basket maker); Deborah [Hopson-Wolpe] (potter and printmaker – who uses BLW's Albertus typeface in her work).


  1. ^ "Frederic W. Goudy Award". Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  2. ^ Drew, Nicholas (1940). "The Work of Berthold Wolpe". Art and Industry: 128–133. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  3. ^ Dawood, Sarah (21 March 2018). "Delving into the life of Berthold Wolpe: the German Jewish designer who fled the Nazis". Design Week. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  4. ^ List of Past Royal Designers for Industry Archived 21 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine on the RSA website.
  5. ^ List of Honorary Doctorates Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine on the RCA website.
  6. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 11 June 1983.
  7. ^ Owen Williams, 'Berthold Wolpe and his Typeface Albertus'. In: Letter Arts Review, Vol 20, No 1, 2006.
  8. ^ Simon Garfield. 'Albertus'. In: Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. London: Profile Books, 2010.
  9. ^ "Berthold Wolpe at Faber (1941-1975)". The Thought Fox. Faber & Faber. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ James Pardey, 'Wolpe, Albertus and Faber's Classic Covers.' Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine In: Creative Review, December 2011.
  11. ^ Joseph Connolly, 'Berthold Wolpe: An Appreciation.' In: Eighty Years of Book Cover Design. London: Faber and Faber, 2009.
  12. ^ Himelfarb, Ellen (27 May 2015). "Meet Berthold Wolpe, the Designer Behind Faber & Faber's Distinctive Book Covers". AIGA. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  13. ^ Susan Shaw. Berthold Wolpe. London: The Merrion Press, 2005. Archived 30 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Neil Macmillan. An A–Z of Type Designers. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2006.
  15. ^ Rhatigan, Dan (September 2006). "Berthold Wolpe: Type Designer, Book Designer & Emigrant". Typeoff. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  16. ^ Rhatigan, Dan (7 September 2006). "Exhibition (flickr set of pictures)". Flickr. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  17. ^ Shaw, Paul (10 February 2011). "Overlooked Typefaces". Print magazine. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  18. ^ "The Wolpe Collection celebrates a quiet legend of design, Berthold Wolpe". Monotype Imaging. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  19. ^ Sinclair, Mark (27 September 2017). "Berthold Wolpe: An Uncommon Type". Creative Review. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  20. ^ Tracy, Walter. Letters of Credit. p. 168.
  21. ^ Shaw, Paul (10 February 2011). "Overlooked Typefaces". Print magazine. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  22. ^ Margaret Re; Johanna Drucker; James Mosley; Matthew Carter (1 July 2003). Typographically Speaking: The Art of Matthew Carter. Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 6, 73. ISBN 978-1-56898-427-8.
  23. ^ "Dinamo Standards". Dinamo. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  24. ^ Cavedoni, Antonio. "Wolpe Pegasus". Typographica. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Wolpe Pegasus". Monotype. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  26. ^ Hill, Jon (16 January 2019). "The face of the Tortoise". Tortoise Media. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  27. ^ Omagari, Toshi. "Tempest". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  28. ^ Tucker, Emma. "Introducing Wolpe Tempest, a contemporary and dynamic typeface from The Wolpe Collection, by Toshi Omagari". Monotype. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  29. ^ Bryant, Sarah; Mosley, James; Hardwig, Florian (17 April 2014). "Adventures in the Monotype Archive: The Sad Story of Sachsenwald". Big Jump Press. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  30. ^ Omagari, Toshi. "Fanfare". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  31. ^ Wolpe, Berthold (1967). Vincent Figgins: Type specimens, 1801 and 1815. London: Printing Historical Society.
  32. ^ Knopp, Justin. "Type Specimens from the Vincent Figgins Type Foundry – 1815". Typoretum. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  33. ^ "John de Beauchesne & the First English Writing-Books". Society for Italic Handwriting. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  34. ^ Osley, A. S. (1980). Scribes and sources: Handbook of the chancery hand in the sixteenth century : texts from the writing-masters (1 ed.). Boston: D. R. Godine. ISBN 9780879232979.
  35. ^ McLean, Ruairi (6 July 1989). "Obituary: Berthold Wolpe". The Independent.
  36. ^ "Margaret Wolpe (obituary)". Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  37. ^ Wolpe, Toby. "Great video on my father Berthold Wolpe's work". Twitter. Retrieved 10 October 2017.

External links[edit]